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Shopko now open in Perham; grand opening planned for Sept. 13

Marie Nitke/FOCUS

The former Pamida store in Perham opened its doors for the first time as Shopko Hometown on Sunday.

After briefly closing to allow for some updates to be done, the retail chain's unofficial opening in town was quiet, according to store manager Rob Huck. Huck suspects that most local residents are aware of the store's temporarily limited inventory and are waiting until the grand opening in September before stopping in to check it out.

On Monday, the store's interior was still pretty bare. While the grocery, pet, and health and beauty departments were all set up and ready to be shopped, other areas had yet to be started on. 'Atmosphere' signage was just starting to go up on the walls, and a paint job was planned to happen in the next few days.

The pharmacy, which never closed, was still open and running as usual.

Huck said the housewares, furniture, stationary and domestics departments will be ready by Sept. 2. The clothing sections will be stocked and ready the following week, he added, "and that's the last piece."

Already, the floors have been stripped and waxed, new carpeting has been installed, fixtures have been moved to accommodate a new floor layout, and outside signage has been put up. The front exterior wall of the building, behind the new Shopko Hometown name, will be painted soon.

Also, sales staff has been going through on-the-floor training on Shopko's store policies and computer and cash register system. Earlier this year, Huck went away to training for a month, and the assistant managers later attended a two-week training program.

Overall, Huck said, the transition from Pamida to Shopko has gone well. Though "there have been daily challenges," he admitted, "we came out really clean on inventory" and "the staff are really excited."

The store also hired "several new employees" in the transition process, Huck said, and at least some of those will become permanent positions.

The Green Bay, Wis.-based Shopko merged with Pamida in January, and the Pamida brand was dissolved. Many of Pamida's old stores are in the process of converting to Shopko or Shopko Hometown stores.

Some of the more noticeable differences between the two chains, Huck said, include Shopko's stronger focus on clothing, domestics and home décor.

"I think there's a lot more name-brand clothing," he said. "Especially shoes."

The store will carry Nike, Adidas and other popular shoe brands, as well as Levi's and other well-known brands of clothing.

"We look forward to being a good partner with the community," said Huck.

The Pamida store had been open since March of 1995.

Shopko Hometown's grand opening in Perham will be held Thursday, Sept. 13, with a silent opening a few days earlier, on Monday, Sept. 10.

Huck is confident about the opening: "We'll be ready," he said.